For menstrual cycle-related problems, such as cramping or premenstrual syndrome, you can take steps to prevent or minimize your discomfort and pain. For menstrual cramps, you can take over-the-counter medications when you know your period and your particular symptoms are about to start. The medications, discussed in other sections, include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ask your health care professional for generic or brand names that would be best for you.

While you may not be able to prevent PMS symptoms, there are many strategies you can use to prepare for them and in some cases make the symptoms less severe.

Changing your diet, exercising and adopting a regular sleep pattern can all help. See the "Treatment" section for more specifics.

  • Change your diet by reducing refined sugars, salt, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol, which can aggravate PMS symptoms.
  • Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Sleep consistent hours and establish a bedtime routine to help cue your body and mind for sleeping
  • Keep a premenstrual symptom checklist to be prepared for highs and lows

For PMDD, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, particularly a type called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be taken for as few as seven days each cycle to prevent disruptive symptoms.

Additionally, women who experience chronic ovulation problems — failure to ovulate — can regulate their cycles by continuing to take oral contraceptives. In fact, regulating menstrual cycles is extremely important in order to prevent uterine (endometrial) cancer.

Abnormal uterine bleeding can be managed and treated once it develops, but it cannot be prevented.